Creative Nonfiction by Shannon Merika

 “Possums – Communities Like You”

            By Shannon Merika

The idea of being kind and respectful to all members of Kingdom Animalia is nothing new. It’s ancient. And it’s global. The quotes below are merely a dip of the finger into the huge pile of similar sentiments expressed within the sacred texts of earth. The foundational concept underpinning them all is The Omnipresence. However you name It, there is Something that is within absolutely everything, and that Something is Kind, or as I like to say, the universe is friendly.

The Saints are exceedingly loving and gentle to humankind and even to brute beasts. Surely, we ought to show them great kindness and gentleness for many reasons, but above all, because they are of the same origin as ourselves. (Saint John Crysostom, in Homilies on the Epistle to the Romans xxix 471)

All living beings, including all kinds of animals and those as small as insects, worms and so forth, are containers of the uncreated energy, thus one should not kill any of them. (Ultra Supreme Elder Lord’s Scripture of Precepts; Orthodox Taoist Canon 0809)

Seest thou not that unto Allah payeth adoration all things that are in the heavens and on earth – the sun, the moon, the stars, the mountains, the trees, the animals, and a large number among humankind. (Koran 22:18)

There is not an animal on earth, nor a bird that flies on its wings, but they are communities like you. (Koran 6:38)

In Tasmania, an island at the bottom of Australia, I fled the uncivilised world for a while to return home to the arms of my mother – the Earth. Well, I’m human so I had a tin roof over the one room bush hut and a water tank and a wood stove and lots of blankets because of the wind from the snow laden mountains. There was a rough dirt road through the bush that I could walk along till I came to another where, with patience I would eventually meet a car and hitch a ride to Huonville to get supplies. At the hut, since they were the only ones around, I got to know my animal neighbours.

It was the brush tail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula), who were the friendliest, especially once they knew I was happy to share my apples with them. The lady came first, and oh how delicately did she gently take the piece of apple from between my fingers as I offered it to her after sunset. Dark furred with the elegant touch of a lighter shade on her tummy, she was so well mannered.

However, there was a little mix-up at first. Unused to taking food from a human hand she slightly miscalculated the distance from her sharp teeth to the apple and accidently almost bit my finger. Well, my hand instantly jerked back and so did she. With an apologetic look, she tried again and this time got it perfect. She visited the hut each evening after that and we became quite familiar with each other. She liked avocados as well.

Upon returning to the hut after one of my walks to the river for a swim I found her inside, sitting on the table beside the bowl of avocados, a half-eaten one raised to her mouth and a look of childlike innocence on her face. ‘Ah,’ I said, ‘I see you picked the best one. Very sensible. I’d have done the same.’ A little unsure of the protocol now that I’d returned, she decided it would be best to leave, so jumped off the table and scampered out the open door, taking the avocado with her.

When not chatting with the lady possum, or watching the wild grass not grow because it was too cold, I meditated for hours each day. Combined with eating a simple, plant-based diet and living in solitude in the bush, this helped me get in touch with my less physical self, or what some people call the astral body. Thus it was that one night as I lay in bed my astral body separated from my physical one and floated through the rough plank wall and to the bush outside the hut. There I saw the lady possum walking along on the ground, plod, plod, plod the way possums do. And guess what? She saw me. She looked up at my luminous, pale white astral body floating in the air above her. And it was because I was above her – in the tactically superior position that she felt uncomfortable, so, not wanting to upset her, I floated back inside the hut, again going straight through the wall, and re-joined my physical body.

The lady made friends with a gentleman, the way ladies and gents do, and soon the gentleman came visiting in the evening as well. He also liked apples and avocados. However, there came a time when I wished to go deeper into my own spirit so I began to fast. Day after day, for many a day, I fasted, and astonishing and amazing things happened but they are another story. The point is, there was no food in the hut to share anymore.

Thus it came about that the gentleman possum visited me one night, but not in his physical body. He came in his astral body. Hovering in the air above me as I lay in bed, he looked much the same as he did in his physical body; that is, with his dark brown physical colouring, and not pale white like my astral body. He hooked one sharp-clawed paw gently under my chin and spoke to me telepathically. He was not eloquent or gracious. He said, ‘Oi, ‘ow about a bit more o’ that food?’ Well that certainly surprised me – and embarrassed me so that I felt obliged to telepathically apologise for having none.

All this led me to understand how animals do come from the same origin as we do, and that we are all containers of the uncreated energy, and that the animals, since they too have spiritual bodies, are very likely capable of paying adoration to Allah. And as for being communities like us, you should have seen the look on my face when, carrying both of them on her back, the lady brought her babies to visit me.

- Shannon Merika has spent a lot of time in the Tasmanian and Australian bush. After seeing what cows were doing to Australia’s rivers she wrote a book, All our beautiful rivers: material and spiritual aspects of eating cows, presently being offered to publishers. She has written for the Organisation of Nature Evolutionaries, and Vegan Australia.

Copyright©2020 by Shannon Merika. All Rights Reserved.